San Nicola di Bari a Lido di Ostia is a 20th century Fascist-era parish church at Via Gian Carlo Passeroni 1 in the eastern outskirts of Lido di Ostia, near the train station of Stella Polari. The zone is LdO Levante.

Name Edit

The dedication is to St Nicholas of Bari, but before 1918 the dedication was to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of "Star of the Sea" (Stella Maris).

History Edit

The mother church of the settlement of Lido di Ostia (often just called "Ostia") is Santa Maria Regina Pacis a Ostia Lido. The subsidiary church of San Nicola al Villaggio dei Pescatori was built in 1932, and this is regarded as the remote progenitor of the parish. It still functions as a subsidiary Mass centre.

However, the history of the present parish church is rather odd. The edifice was erected in 1937 as part of the facilities of the Collegio Nautico IV Novembre, an enormous institution for the training of sailors founded by the Fascist government. The architect was Giuseppe Boni. The main premises are on the Via delle Fiamme Gialle, and are still impressive despite having lost the tall central tower. They are now occupied by the Guardia di Finanza. The former chapel is tucked away in a corner of the large site.

The chapel became redundant after the college closed, in the mid 20th century. However, it was acquired by the Diocese in 1958 as the main church for the new parish of Santa Maria Stella Maris. This was intended as a temporary measure, until a permanent parish church was built.

The parish meanwhile opened a subsidiary church at Viale dei Promontori 116. When the project for a permanent church was finally approved, it was decided to build it on this site and leave the Fascist chapel alone. This was done in 1977. See Santa Maria Stella Maris a Castel Palocco.

Finally, in 1981 the parish of San Nicola was erected by dividing the Stella Maris parish and the Fascist edifice finally acquired a permanent function. The subsidiary church of San Nicola al Villaggio dei Pescatori was also added to it, with some territory from Santa Maria Regina Pacis a Ostia Lido. This church is still open.

The parish is administered by the Servi Trinitatis, a Spanish secular institution.

Exterior Edit

Layout and fabric Edit

The first thing to realise about the church is that it faces away from the street. The street frontage, behind the original and distinctive boundary wall of the Fascist college, is actually the back wall of the sanctuary. This is because of the church's original status as the private chapel of the college.

The edifice is basically a flat-roofed brick box, although well-proportioned and tall for its width. There is a single nave with five bays, a transept which protrudes slightly on each side and finally a very shallow sanctuary apse. All these are under the same flat roof, protected by a parapet formed by the tops of the walls.

The back of the church has three enormous tall round-headed recesses, rather like ancient Roman aqueduct arches but with the central recess taller and containing a tall stained glass window. The ends of the transept each have a single such recess, again with a stained glass window. The nave side walls each have a row of six windows, not elongated.

The exterior is entirely rendered, in an ochre colour that has been fading in the sea air. The parapet has a cornice, in what looks like a grey-green marble. Old photos show that the nave side windows each had a portrait tondo over them, but this feature was lost some time ago.

The campanile is on top of the right hand end of the transept. It is a simple horizontally rectangular brick frame with a flat roof, standing on the parapet cornice.

Façade Edit

The façade mirrors the sanctuary end, in having three very tall and deep round-headed recesses with the central one taller. In the top of each recess is a round stained glass window, and fitted into each one is a door-case in grey-green marble with an inwardly sloping underlintel. These three doorways are identical. They face out onto a little patio accessed by stairs on three sides.

Just to the left of the façade and set back is a little annexe which looks as if it is a baptistery. This has its own façade which is an echo of the main one, except that the round-headed recesses are shallow and there are no doors.

Interior Edit

The interior is in white, including the ceiling which is in large rectangular coffers separated by support beams. There is a high dado in grey-green marble, with thin slabs of the stone cut and fitted to form symmetrical patterns with the variations in colour.

The transept and apse are both provided with simple but massive triumphal arches with deep voussoirs. The arch of the former has two round apertures in the spandrels.

The nave windows are in clear glass, but there is stained glass in the windows of the sanctuary and counterfaçade.

The sanctuary occupies the transept, the altar having been brought forward. The apse was provided with a screen wall at some stage, against which the altar used to stand. The tabernacle is still here, circular in the grey-green stone with a gilded door.

Above the tabernacle is a round-headed aedicule containing a crucifix which is above the level of the top of the screen wall. The interior is in bright yellow, framed by two little Corinthian pilasters in red stone supporting an archivolt in the grey-green stone.

To the left of the tabernacle is a large statue of Our Lady, and to the right one of St Nicholas.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):

Weekdays 19:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 11:30, 19:00. There is a Mass in Polish at 17:00.

The church has Perpetual Adoration.

Also see San Nicola al Villaggio dei Pescatori, the other parish church.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Roman Despatches blog with gallery

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